…If the word [justification] should signify as much as ‘to make righteous’, as to sanctify does signify ‘to make holy’, still we could grant it, though not in the Popish way; and indeed the Apostle [in] Rom. 5. says, ‘many are made righteous by the second Adam’, which if not meant of inherent holiness, does imply, that the righteousness we have by Christ is not merely declarative, but also constitutive; and indeed one is in order before the other, for a man must be righteous before he can be pronounced or declared so to be…so that there are these two things in justifying, whereof one is the ground of the other, first to make righteous, and then to pronounce or declare so.
-Anthony Burges, The True Doctrine of Justification.
On July 5th the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) joined the JDDJ. The WCRC’s statement of association, like the World Methodist Council, adds areas of distinct Reformed emphasis on justification. These additions are both far superior to anything produced in the original JDDJ or its subsequent additions, while simultaneously being the most disappointing additions…
Christianity Today published a review on Protestant-Catholic relations that focused upon two books, the first written by Protestant-turned Catholic Peter Kreeft, the other co-authored by Protestants Kenneth J. Collins (Catholic converted to Wesleyanism) and Jerry L. Walls, a Baptist. Both books address the JDDJ, with Kreeft calling it, “the greatest ecumenical achievement in the five hundred years since the Reformation.” Collins and Walls dedicate an entire chapter to the JDDJ, in which they echo the concerns of the LCMS and hit the same points that I addressed in my previous post.
The World Methodist Council adopted the JDDJ in August, 2006, with some additions to reflect distinctly Wesleyan understandings of justification. It is interesting that the Methodists constantly cite John Wesley to express their theological points and scriptural interpretation; the Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed all cite their exegetical tradition or confessional statements, not individual theologians.
The Methodist additions to the JDDJ, like the Lutheran comments, functionally defer to the Catholic structure of understanding justification. Any notable doctrinal difference between the Methodists and the initial JDDJ undercuts the common consensus on the foundational nature of justification that the Lutherans and Catholics are attempting to achieve….
I had intended to keep up my comments on the Joint Declaration on Justification (JDDJ) that I began this summer, but time got away from me.
The JDDJ sets out to demonstrate that there is a common consensus between the Lutheran and Catholic signatories on the fundamental aspects of the doctrine of justification. The JDDJ is a reminder that Protestants need to engage with Roman Catholics as they actually are, not with caricatures of them…
There is much to commend with the report, as I previously mentioned. However, the JDDJ falls short of addressing the primary concerns that confessional Protestants and Trentine Catholics had with the doctrine of justification….
It should be clear that if a doctrine is a) biblical, b) directly related to salvation, c) a critical and distinctive part of the Reformed Protestant tradition, and d) pastorally helpful in providing comfort for sanctification, that rejecting it is…